Notifying the Wisconsin Historical Society | Wisconsin Historical Society

Guide or Instruction

Notifying the Wisconsin Historical Society

Notifying the Wisconsin Historical Society | Wisconsin Historical Society

Wisconsin law requires that all forms of local government notify the Wisconsin Historical Society no less than 60-days before destroying any obsolete public records. The following guide outlines how local units can follow these laws and destroy obsolete records properly.

Notification Process

Identify and verify the records you want to destroy are beyond their required retention periods.

Next, prepare and send a written letter notifying the Society of the records you are destroying. Letters should include the following information:

  • Title/Name of each record series to be destroyed.
  • Years covered by each record series
  • Name and phone number of a knowledgeable person who can answer questions
  • Letters should be addressed to State Archivist

The Society only accepts mailed letters and not electronic notifications. Mail letters to the following: 

Wisconsin Historical Society 
Attn. Andrew Baraniak, 4th Floor Archives 
816 State Street 
Madison, WI  53706-1482

The Society will respond by letter within 60 days indicating if the offer of transfer has been accepted or declined. 

Declined records may be destroyed at your earliest convenience. Records accepted for transfer or review should be set aside until a site visit can be scheduled by WHS staff. 

Local units should hold onto reply letters for proof of following proper destruction procedures. 

Note for Courts: Court Operations has approved a form that courts can use instead of writing a notification letter. The form number is GF-110 and is available through the Wisconsin Court System website. Form should be submitted via mail and not sent electronically. 

Notification Waivers

WHS can waive the 60-day notification period for records that are not of interest for long-term preservation. Reply letters will state that the Society has waived the 60-day notification period for particular series, meaning you do not need to give notification on them once they pass retention.

Record schedules that are approved by the Public Records Board usually identify if the notification period has been waived. Local units may follow these guidelines if they have officially adopted the schedules. 

Records that are 75 years or older should NOT be destroyed before talking to the WHS first. Contact the Local Government Records Archivist directly before destroying these older records. 


The following statutes pertain to notification requirements for local units: Wis. Stat. 19.21, 19.23, 44.09, and Supreme Court Rule 72.04.

Have Questions?

Contact the Local Government Records Archivist at (608) 264-6469 or through the email below if you have any questions.